Most of us have heard the quote, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.  However, as a root cause analysis kind of guy, there’s something deeper than that and that’s why I ascribe more to the notion brought forth by the late 20th-century novelist John Steinbeck who said, “Power does not corrupt.  Fear corrupts.  Perhaps the fear of a loss of power.”

As continuous improvement leaders and, frankly, leaders in general, we must always remember that fear is not the best motivator. Fear breeds defensiveness, apprehension, suspicion and corrupts any chance at sustained progress. So, what does successful power and influence look like?  How can we be successful stewards of our power and influence?

Types of Power

Let’s begin with understanding the various types of power. Psychologist Nicole Lipkin discusses the different types of power in her book, “What Keeps Leaders Up at Night”. She attributes the following seven types power to the work of psychologists Bertram Raven, John French, Arie Kruglanski, and Paul Hersey beginning in 1959.  They are:

  1. Legitimate Power: This power arises from one’s title or position in the pecking order and how others perceive that title or position.
  2. Coercive Power: This power comes from fear. Someone who uses coercive power influences others by threat and force. Failure to comply will lead to punishment.
  3. Expert Power: This arises directly from a person’s skills or expertise or from perceived skills or expertise. Expert power is knowledge-based. If you hold an advanced degree or a Master Black Belt certification your colleagues are more inclined to accede to your expertise, which gives you influence.
  4. Informational Power: This arises from the possession of wanted information. People with high informational power wield influence because they control access. If you are the only one with the password to a secret file, for example, people will always defer to you when they need access to that file.
  5. Reward Power: This power motivates people to respond in order to win raises, promotions, and awards.
  6. Referent Power: This depends on personal traits and values, such as honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness. People with high referent power can highly influence anyone who admires and respects them.
  7. Connection Power: This power creates influence by proxy. People with this type of power build important coalitions with others. They influence everyone who wants to gain the favor or avoid the disfavor of those coalitions.

Maximizing our Power and Influence

The applicational mix of these seven types of power yields interesting outcomes.  Lipkin notes there is a strong relationship between credibility, influence, and power. She says, “When it comes to influencing people without creating potentially negative effects, referent, expert, informational, and legitimate power tend to get the best results.”

The effective use of referent, expert, informational and legitimate power involves developing several important skills:

  • Ability to maintain strength of character
  • Ability to convey your expertise and relevant information effectively to others
  • Make a clear and compelling presentation
  • Adapt communication to the listener
  • Forge trust
  • Display empathy

A successful leader uses their power and influence to achieve mutual respect, value and collaboration. Good leaders gain influence by nurturing relationships grounded in trust and confidence. As a result, people buy into their message.

Your Opportunity to Increase Your Expertise

Are you interested in increasing your level of expertise?   Acuity Institute is currently offering a great opportunity to save money while earning your Master Black Belt certification.  We have two options available:

  1. For a Limited Time Only (through May 31, 2019), Acuity is offering $1,000 off our regular price of $4,995 making your cost $3,995 when you pay in full at the time of enrollment.
  2. Acuity Institute now offers a subscription payment program. Pay only $250 upon enrollment and then $250 every month is deducted automatically until program completion or cancellation.  The subscription program puts you in the driver’s seat, the Master Black Belt program is entirely self-paced, and you only pay for the time that you need to complete your certification.  For example, if you can complete the Master Black Belt program in 12 months, you would only pay $3,000, a savings of $1,995!

See our MBB page for more information on the Master Black Belt Certification Program.

Or contact me direct at, I’d be happy to discuss the program with you.



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